Pool heater linked to Boone hotel deaths was installed without permit

The pool heater that leaked carbon monoxide and killed three people at a Boone hotel was installed without the knowledge of the town’s inspection department, a city inspector said.

Todd Miller, an inspector for the Boone Planning and Inspections Department, said Best Western Blue Ridge Plaza representatives never told the city about the new heater or applied for a permit, which is required under the state building code.

“The pool heater that we found installed had been manufactured in 2006, and we have no record of Best Western applying for or receiving a permit to change that heater out,” Miller said.

Miller said the town would have issued a permit only to properly licensed individuals.

Last week, officials with the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinklers investigated the hotel, which was built in 2000, and found problems with the heater’s installation.

“I can’t go into specifics since it’s an active investigation,” said Dale Dawson, the board’s executive director.

Carbon monoxide poisoning killed Daryl Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Jenkins, 72, on April 16. The Washington state couple was staying in Room 225, located directly over the pool’s maintenance room.

On June 8, the gas killed 11-year-old Jeffrey Lee Williams of Rock Hill, who was staying with his mother in the same room.

Funeral services for Jeffrey Williams were held Sunday.

Jeannie Williams was found unconscious and was recently discharged from the hospital.

A call to the attorney representing the hotel was not immediately returned.

Dr. Brent Hall, the Watauga County medical examiner who investigated the deaths, resigned Friday.

On Saturday, Aldona Wos, secretary for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said the deaths “should have never happened” and the state would review how the N.C. medical examiner’s office investigated the cases.

Records show that, a week before Jeffrey Williams died, the state knew Shirley Jenkins had a lethal level of carbon monoxide in her blood. But neither the state nor the county medical examiner warned the hotel, Boone police or fire officials of the danger.

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